The National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA) is not a casualty of an investigation launched into the operations and spending patterns of state-owned National Gas Company (NGC).
Publicised documents claiming to show a questionable jump in the corporate communications department's budget from $67 million to 200 million over a 24-month period and the subsequent probe into the matter by the Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, had not affected the energy company's investment in sport in accordance with its corporate social responsibility mandate.
At a media conference on March 12, held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, Anand Ragbir, vice-president of finance and information management announced the company's renewal of its contract with the NAAA amounting to $12 million over three years.
"Our local sporting industry refuses to rest on its laurels and we at NGC will not, either. We are holding further discussion with the NAAAs regarding a longer term partnership, in an attempt to sustain the progress it has made the past year and further strength the organisation," he said.
"As such, we have agreed to contribute an annual sum of $TT4 million from 2015-2017. This money will specifically target the continuation of the initiatives from the 2014 agreement. There will also new initiatives, which include: A Kids Athletics Programme; Development Meets; Participation and presentation for international meets, for example the Penn Relays, World Youth Championship and Pan Am Juniors and Pan Am Games; as well as capacity building.
"All of these goals are being sought in the context of the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil, where we expect to see the fruits of our labours proudly on display on the international stage. Those of you who actively follow sport in T&T will agree that we are steadily working toward our lofty, but very attainable goals of a greater presence of T&T athletes throughout the spectrum of athletes. We believe this is in no small part thanks to the efforts of the member bodies of the NAAAs and your determination to bring 21 century thinking to the world of sport."
Its reinvestment in the NAAA was a direct result of the tangible results achieved during a previous contract, which caused the energy company to deepen their relationship.
Last year, Ragbir said, NGC signed as a major sponsor with a $2.3 million contribution to the NAAA.
NGC, said the vice-president of finance, was meticulous in ensuring that funds donated through its programmes were allocated in such a way as to ensure the best return on investment.
"We are satisfied that our sponsorship is aligned to the NAAA's new strategic plan (2012-2016). This plan describes their targeted state and identifies four priorities required get there. Of these four, we consider three a good fit for our support, as they mesh nicely with NGC's CSI policy. The first of these is improving governance, which will be demonstrated through constitutional reform, specifically, accountability in the management of athletic clubs. In this vein, NGC has sponsored several capacity building workshops with the executive members of the NAAAs, aimed at equipping them with the practical and leadership skills necessary for this transformation. Besides the officials, athletes were also exposed to workshops that focused on a variety of themes pertinent to their careers," said Ragbir.
An interesting side effect of the growing national interest in sport, said Ragbir, was the move toward setting the international stage in T&T, instead of having this country go to the world. In his view, the time was ripe to bring the world to local shores, along with all the positive economic ripples that such a sports tourism initiative could offer.
"No one can discount the benefits to be derived from supporting this association and athletes by extension," said Ragbir.
"It is a rare Trinbagonian who isn't filled with pride when one of our own achieves glory for our beloved red, white and black in the international arena. We love to see our flag flown high before cheering crowds, we love to see our country's name in print, lauding our athletes; because with this comes national respect and national recognition."